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British Slave Emancipation$
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Green William A.

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202783.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

The Plantation Economy

The Plantation Economy

(p.35) Chapter 2 The Plantation Economy
British Slave Emancipation

William A. Green

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the plantation economy of the West Indies colony, focusing on its sugar production, which dominated the Caribbean economy. In all the West Indian colonies, sugar was the principal product, and was even the sole product of some. Plantations were significant in the West Indies colonies as they formed the basic social and economic units on the islands, providing the focus of identity and allegiance among the slaves. Colonial revenue depended heavily on the state of sugar plantation, the legislatures and mechanisms of society were dominated by sugar planters, the militia was ruled by the sugar plantation owners, and the public calendar depended on the seasonal requirements of sugar production. By the turn of 1830, the West Indian sugar economy was in jeopardy, as the old colonies were faced by mounting competition as a result of Britain's acquisition of foreign sugar colonies during the Napoleonic wars. These foreign sugar plantations contributed 46 per cent of colonial sugar that was exported to the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834. The acquisition of foreign sugar colonies led to increased colonial sugar production, resulting in a decrease in prices. Not only did the rudiments of sugar production change during this period, but also the market demand and prices. The colonial sugar plantations furthermore encountered attacks on the basic cornerstones of the West Indian economic system. Slave labour, home market monopoly, and absenteeism were challenging the emerging humanitarian societies and the competing market interests.

Keywords:   plantation economy, West Indies, sugar production, sugar, sugar plantation, sugar production

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